Nicholas Rescher#

Nicholas Rescher was born in Hagen, Germany, in 1928 and came to the USA at the age of ten. He attended Queens College in New York City and earned his doctorate at Princeton in 1951 while still at the age of twenty-two—a record for Princeton’s Department of Philosophy. Since 1961 he has been at the University of Pittsburgh where he is University Professor has also served as Chairman of the Department of Philosophy and as Director of the Center for Philosophy of Science. For many years he served on the Faculty Committee for the University of Pittsburgh Press.

In a productive research career extending over six decades, Rescher has established himself as a systematic philosopher of the old style and author of a system of pragmatic idealism which weaves together threads of thought from continental idealism and American pragmatism. And apart from this larger program Rescher’s many-sided work has made significant contributions to logic (the conception autodescriptive systems of many-sided logic), to the history of logic (the medieval Arabic theory of modal syllogistic), to the theory of knowledge (epistemetrics as a quantitative approach in theoretical epistemology), to the philosophy of science (the theory of a logarithmic returns in scientific effort). Rescher has also worked in the area of futuristics, and along with Olaf Helmer and Norman Dalkey is co-inaugurator of the so-called Delphi method of forecasting.

One of the few contemporary exponents of philosophical idealism, Rescher has been active in the rehabilitation of the coherence theory of truth and in the reconstruction of philosophical pragmatism in line with the idealistic tradition. He has pioneered the development of inconsistency-tolerant logics and, in the philosophy of science, the logarithmic retardation theory of scientific progress based on the epistemological principle that our knowledge in a field does not increase in proportion with the volume of information but only with its logarithm. Some dozen books about Rescher’s work have appeared in English, German, and Italian and Arabic. His contributions to philosophy have been recognized by honorary degrees awarded by eight universities on three continents.

For over three decades Rescher has been editor of the American Philosophical Quarterly. The author of more than seventy books in various areas of philosophy, works by Mr. Rescher have been translated into German, Spanish, French, Italian, and Japanese. He has lectured at universities in many countries, and has occupied visiting posts at various universities in North America and Europe (including Oxford, Konstanz, and Salamanca). He has held fellowships from the J. S. Guggenheim Foundation, the Ford Foundation, and the American Philosophical Society. A former president of the American Philosophical Association (Eastern Division), of the American Catholic Philosophical Association, of the American Metaphysical Society, of the C. S. Peirce Society, and of the G. W. Leibniz Society of America. Rescher has also served as member of the Board of Directors of the International Federation of Philosophical Societies, an organ of UNESCO.

An honorary member of Corpus Christi College, Oxford, Rescher has been elected to membership in the European Academy of Arts and Sciences (Academia Europaea), The Royal Society of Canada, the Institut International de Philosophie, and the Academie Internationale de Philosophie des Sciences. Having held visiting lectureships at Oxford, Constance, Salamanca, Munich, and Marburg, he has been awarded fellowships by the Ford, Guggenheim, and National Science Foundations. Author of some hundred books ranging over many areas of philosophy, over a dozen of them translated from English into other languages. In 1977 its fellow elected him an honorary member of Corpus Christi College, Oxford, and in 1983 he received an Alexander von Humboldt Humanities Prize, awarded under the auspicies of the Federal Republic of Germany “in recognition of the research accomplishments of humanistic scholars of international distinction.” In 2005 he was awarded the Beligian Cardinal Mercier Prize and in 2006 he was awarded the Thomas Aquinas Medal of the American Catholic Philosophical Association.

Rescher has been commissioned to undertake support studies for Congressional committees on science/technology matters and has been invited to testify before Committee on Science and Technology on issues of space exploration and colonization.
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